A showdown is looming in Nanyuki town between 14 seater matatu operators and Probox and Sienta owners on the other hand over who should ferry passengers to some destinations.
The Probox and Sienta owners claim harassment by matatu operators even after they had complied with a government directive to operate only on feeder roads and not major highways.
The operators claim that they only operate from Nanyuki town to Matanya market as per the government directive but accuse the matatu operators of trying to push them out of business by invading their route yet the 14 seater vehicles were licensed to ferry passengers over long distances.
The Probox and Sienta operators accused the matatu operators of violence against their crew and vowed to retaliate. They further accused security bosses in the area of protecting matatu operators.
“We have had our drivers attacked and vehicles deflated and windows broken by gangs believed to be working for the matatu operators yet when we report the same to authorities no action is taken.” James Kagunyi a spokesperson for the Probox operators said on Wednesday.
David Ngatia, an operator with Nanyuki Cabs matatu sacco however, dismissed the allegations of the Probox operators, saying that their vehicles were within their rights to operate to Matanya market since they had been licensed to ferry passengers to Nyahururu and Nakuru yet the market lies along the route.
“Their demands are unrealistic since Matanya lies along the same route we use while ferrying passengers to Nyahururu. We can’t fail to carry passengers to any destination. They have a problem because they can’t match our fares that are much lower,” Ngatia said.
The Laikipia East MP, Amin Deddy who sought to diffuse the tension between the two groups called on police officers to desist from applying the law selectively and be impartial in the matter.
The bad blood between matatu operators and their Probox counterparts escalated last week with a day long strike by the 14 seater operators who were condemning the continued operation of the personal cars as Public Service Vehicles in Nanyuki and its environs. The standoff left hundreds of travelers stranded.
By Martin Munyi